Some studies saying that spoilers don’t reduce my enjoyment of a story
Disclaimer: I acknowledge my own zeal on this topic and I am genuinely curious about your experience. My own experience of having conversations in public and semi-public spaces disrupted by people interrupting with urgent cries of “spoilers” has generated some resentment that may leak into the discussion. That resentment is not meant for you specifically. I seek understanding.
Perhaps you could elaborate, because “spoilers don’t ruin people’s enjoyment of stories” stands up to at least a quick examination.
If we accept “spoilers” to mean something like “knowledge of specific elements of the plot”, and we took this knowledge to be a negative on the story consuming experience, I would expect a very different-looking world:
Nobody would want to buy DVDs in a world where streaming and cinemas exist
Nobody would want to watch the same movie more than once. (I remember people going back to see Titanic in theaters 3 or more times)
I wouldn’t expect the term “cult classic” to mean what it does. (Have you seen/heard what audiences do at the Rocky Horror Picture Show?)
Broadway and other theater industries would have to operate on the assumption that they would never get a repeat customer. (“Cats! Now and forever at the Winter Garden Theatre!”)
The TV rerun would probably be a very limited thing if it existed at all
Nobody would have a favorite book that they’ve ever read more than once. In fact, I doubt the print industry would even bother with fiction at all
I wouldn’t expect individuals or groups to have a favorite joke (defined by its “surprise” ending)
We wouldn’t have the monomyth, or any other stories that get told over and over in myriad very slightly different iterations. Likewise, story cycles would never have become a literary device. (e.g. Marvel movies, Star Wars)
That said, if the only reason you enjoy stories is the surprise generated by newly discovering the creativity of the writing, then spoilers might, indeed, “reduce [the] enjoyment of a story”, but that’s apparently not commonly stopping people from consuming as though they could enjoy a story that they may already know well enough to tell it to others with great precision from memory.
All of this seems to assume that knowing things about the plot will reduce all enjoyment of the story; my experience is closer to something like “consuming a work for the first time is a different kind of experience from re-consuming something that I already know”. Spoilers can damage the first-time enjoyment, while not affecting the later occasions.
That said, it does also feel to me that I don’t reconsume works very much personally, and this feels at least partially because consuming them a second time does feel much less interesting than the first time. Some people clearly like re-consuming works more often, so it may be that some people prefer the first-time experience more than others.
I feel similarly to Kaj.
I don’t like spoilers personally. Which doesn’t mean it’s the same for others of course.
I acknowledge that satisfying this preference comes at the cost of having to constantly signal spoilers.
The evidence seems to be mixed, with successive experiments contradicting (or at least nuancing) one another, as a quick ‘Spoilers reduce enjoyment’ Google search shows.
I really appreciate your bringing this topic as it has allowed me to update in the direction of worrying less about the possibility of coming across a spoiler: upon further reflection, I conclude that, at least for me personally, they do not seem to affect my enjoyment as much as I thought they did, and in some cases, they even add to the experience rather than subtract from it. I have an issue with face recognition, which leads me to getting lost in the plot of e.g. movies with a lot of different characters. Knowing part of the plot in advance helps me being engaged.
This was supposed to be a reply to the comment by Mati_Roy, but I am not familiar with the interface and have ended up creating a new ‘orphan’ comment. My apologies.
Note that I meant to say that I personally really dislike spoilers despite the ‘scientific’ evidence saying that I don’t. But it could very well be that the evidence is actually mixed (thanks for the link!); I hadn’t looked into it more than seeing 1 or 2 papers shared on Facebook.
This was supposed to be a reply to the comment by Mati_Roy, but I am not familiar with the interface and have ended up creating a new ‘orphan’ comment.
You did that well:)